Preparation is keyInformation on specific impact of climate change on Nepal’s population has to be disseminated
An International Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment and Impacts on Livelihood began in Kathmandu on Tuesday. President Bidya Devi Bhandari gave the inaugural speech, where she spoke about Nepal’s commitment to address the threat of climate change, despite the country’s limited resources. Bhandari spoke comprehensively of the negative impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, highlighting the severe consequences that it could have on Nepal.
Bhandari’s speech will likely be regarded simply as a polite speech made by a senior state figure on a formal occasion. But the issues she highlighted have a great deal of importance, and it would serve a purpose if it could raise public awareness of climate change effects. Although climate change is likely to have highly detrimental effects on the Nepali population, there is little awareness of it. Government policies tackling climate change will also need to include measures to combat this lack of awareness.
Climate change will have a wide variety of effects for which the Nepali population should be prepared. It will lead to an increasing frequency of natural disaster, including floods, droughts, epidemics, forest fires and disruption to ecosystems. In addition, there will be landslides and debris flows in the hill regions. In some areas, climate change has already started causing ecological degradation, biodiversity loss and glacial lake outburst floods.
Such processes would have a major impact on all areas of human habitation. An increase in temperatures could lead to a drastic reduction in crop yields, thereby leading to food insecurity. The destruction of forests would be highly damaging for many Nepalis dependent on them. Droughts caused by climate change will lead to a decrease in the availability of clean drinking water. Increased flow in rivers due to climate change will affect hydroelectricity production. There is a high risk that climate change will lead to the spread of various vector- and water-borne infectious diseases. Disasters wrought by climate change will damage existing infrastructure. While the entire Nepali population will suffer from climate change effects, the poor and marginalised sections will bear the brunt, since they already live precarious lives.
Given that the impact of climate change is going to be widespread, any response to it will require comprehensive policies. While the government’s role will be crucial, local communities and private individuals will also have to take precautionary measures. Therefore, information on the specific impact of climate change has to be disseminated. The ongoing conference on climate change and biodiversity loss is important. Still, it is only a small step. Much broader effort is needed to prepare for the potentially calamitous impact of climate change.